Publications and Research

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

September 2014

Abstract

By treating the suicide as a social fact, Durkheim envisaged that suicide rates should be determined by the connections between people and society. Under the same framework, he considered that crime is bound up with the fundamental conditions of all social life. The social effect on the occurrence of homicides has been previously substantiated, and confirmed here, in terms of a superlinear scaling relation: by doubling the population of a Brazilian city results in an average increment of 135% in the number of homicides, rather than the expected isometric increase of 100%, as found, for example, for the mortality due to car crashes. Here we present statistical signs of the social influence on the suicide occurrence in cities. Differently from homicides (superlinear) and fatal events in car crashes (isometric), we find sublinear scaling behavior between the number of suicides and city population, with allometric power-law exponents, β = 0.84 ± 0.02 and 0.87 ± 0.01, for all cities in Brazil and US counties, respectively. Also for suicides in US, but using the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), we obtain β = 0.88 ± 0.01.

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